Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Naked poetry City

If I had to choose one Naked City episode as my favorite, I would choose “The Multiplicity of Herbert Konish” (May 23, 1962). It’s strange and funny and crime-free. To offer more explanation would take away the fun.

Like other Naked City episodes — say, this one, and this one, and this one too — “The Multiplicity of Herbert Konish” has significant poetry content. Early on, Detective Adam Flint responds to a loft resident’s skepticism about his ability to fathom poetry:

“Mrs. Lindall, I think you’re being a little prejudiced. Just because I’m a police officer doesn’t mean I don’t read poetry. [Laughs.] I guess I’m a little old-fashioned. Actually, I lean toward Emily Dickinson. However, I made an exception for early T. S. Eliot.”
Adam is indeed, as Lieutenant Mike Parker says (in another episode), a “college cop.”

Later in this episode, walking with his girlfriend Libby Kingston in Washington Square Park, Adam mentions that he wrote his thesis on Dickinson and that he once aspired to be a professor of English literature at Harvard. When Libby shows him the script of an avant-garde theater piece she’s working on, Adam reads aloud in bewilderment: “transvestite tearsheets from flannel funnels.” What? Why can’t she be in something by Inge or Miller? Libby explains that the line refers to Madison Avenue. Adam points to a boy in the park and begins to recite:
“I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you — Nobody — too?”

[Nancy Malone as Libby Kingston, Paul Burke as Adam Flint. “The Multiplicity of Herbert Konish,” Naked City, May 23, 1962. Teleplay by Herbert Kinoy.]

And Libby’s embarrassed, at least a little.

[Click either image for a larger view.]

The chemistry between Burke and Malone is a wonderful thing. At some point in the series, Libby changes from girlfriend to fiancée. She and Adam no doubt married after the series ended in 1963.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

comments: 3

The Crow said...

My favorite Dickinson poem- one of, I should say - is the one about the snake.

(Someone beat me to Nancy Marchand.)

Michael Leddy said...

If I had to choose one, I’d choose the one that begins “I cannot live with You” or the one that begins “I started Early — Took my Dog.”

The Crow said...

Re: The Snake -

It isn't so much how it begins, or the mental imagery of the words that follow, but the summation.

I admire the beauty and wonder of snakes. I cannot escape their effect on me.

Time to locate my box of poetry.